If 2012 is anything to go by Granard could hardly have experienced a better 12 months.
On both the sporting front and general scene locally, residents from the north Longford town are probably still pinching themselves at just how memorable the past year has been.
On the field of play, local club side St Mary’s captured not one but two of the county’s intermediate championships.
Arguably the most important of those wins came in September when a last gasp 45’ from Stephen Lynch saw off Newtowncashel by the slenderest of margins (0-11 to 0-10).
It means Gerry Cadden’s charges will now take their place in the top tier of county football next season.
Away from the sporting ethos, there were reasons aplenty to be cheerful. Granard native Ronan Sheridan had plenty to celeberate when he captured the enviable honour of being crowned Young Pharmacist of the Year.
Otherwise known as the Helix Health Pharmacy Awards, Ronan came out top in his category, which rewarded those whose activities, in the course of their professional duties and development is judged to be the most commendable.
Staying with health, the year also saw local brothers Patrick and Oliver Durkin team up as they launched their latest venture, Furlio Healthcare Ltd.
A foot and hand cream geared specifically for diabetics, the pair believe their product could revolutionise the way experts treat an illness that now affects more than 200,000 people nationwide. September meanwhile, saw another local hit the headlines as author Thomas Kiernan penned his second book named ‘Someone I Never Knew’.
In education, the town received welcome news in November as Department of Education bosses granted additional classrooms at two second level Co Longford schools, one of which included VEC establishment Ardscoil Phadraig where four further classrooms look set to come on stream.
The year also saw much progress in terms of the local community’s effort to set up a major tourist visitor centre in the town.
Following on around €50,000 that was raised in a well recived club 500 draw, committee members behind the venture announced plans to incorporate a feasibility study as part of their bid.
This, it is hoped, could add further weight to a seperate move council executives are currently exploring with a view to purchasing the town’s 13 century motte site.
But it was perhaps volunteerism that locals will remember 2012 most for. Like the afformentioned fundraising campiagn concerning the town’s proposed vistor centre, a similar case could also be made for the communty’s desire to maintain its Christmas lights facility.
In response to a reduction in local authority funding made two years ago, a small band of local volunteers came together to form a Christmas lights committee.
And just like last year, it would appear the response from locals has proved more than adequate.
“We had a fancy dress last year and the one we had this time around was a great success too,” said committee member and local councillor Maura Kilbride Harkin.
“The number of people who turned out was terrific and we even had (Barack) Obama there. What’s more, he got first prize.”
Proceeds from the campaign which was held in Kane’s Pub, are expected to allow for a unique ‘live crib’ in the Town Hall during the course of the official ‘switching on’ ceremony on Friday evening (December 7).
Cllr Kilbride Harkin admitted the idea of holding a fancy dress to raise funds for the town’s Christmas lights is likely to become a regular fixture on the local calendar.
“People want to see Granard lit up and it makes such a difference to the town espcially for the kids. Now all we are waiting for is Santa’s arrival,” she quipped. The honour of switching on the lights in Granard this year will go to local priest Fr Simon Cadam with a crib also being erected beside local establishment John V Donohoe’s.